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Today in Idaho hospitals and COVID-19 (updated 10/13): Patients, ERs, ICUs

Idaho Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen speaks during a virtual media briefing, joined by other health officials. Jeppesen gave an emotional account of his mother’s trip to the hospital after a stroke, the day he activated crisis standards of care.

Get daily updates on Idaho hospital capacity, pediatric and adult COVID-19 hospitalizations

Idaho public health officials on Tuesday were reluctant to make any predictions about whether the COVID-19 surge is reaching a plateau or downward trend.

Data backlogs are making it hard to produce a reliable forecast.

“Due to the recent surge in infections, case investigation data are missing for approximately 7,800 outstanding positive laboratory results that are pending local public health district review and follow-up,” the state’s COVID-19 dashboard says.

Hospitals are behind on reporting the number of COVID-19 patients they have, how many patients they admit, how many patients die, and other key metrics. This month, several hospitals have missed at least one day of reporting; those hospitals account for about 8% of Idaho’s inpatient bed capacity.

One thing we know is that Idaho’s hospitals remain in a crisis situation, for the 27th day in a row.

While COVID-19 patients are taking up fewer beds, it’s not because fewer of them are being admitted to the hospital, data show.

Idaho remains under the last-resort “crisis standards of care” declaration from the surge of COVID-19 cases on top of the usual kinds of serious ailments and injuries.

Meanwhile, hospital systems and health care providers are giving as many infusions as they can of monoclonal antibody treatments to try to keep high-risk patients out of the hospital. While those infusions can help a person’s immune system fight the coronavirus, they’re not as effective and as easy to access as COVID-19 vaccines.

Again, several hospitals are behind on reporting their numbers, so data for this week likely will be revised in future days.

Federal data show the following, based on reports from hospitals for Tuesday, Oct. 12. (See “Notes” below for additional information about the data.) For quick visual reference, numbers in black are unchanged from the previous day, numbers in red are worsened, and numbers in green are improved.

  • People hospitalized with COVID-19: 646 (previous day: 650) which is 27.6% (previous day: 28.6%) of people hospitalized for all reasons
  • Adults in the ICU with COVID-19: 175 (previous day: 176)
  • Children hospitalized with COVID-19: 6 (previous day: 7)
  • Patients newly admitted to the hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 74 (previous day: 80)
  • Rolling 7-day average of newly hospitalized COVID-19 patients, by age:
    Children: 2 (previous day’s rolling average: 2)
    Age 18-19: 1 (previous: 1)
    20s: 3 (previous: 3)
    30s: 7 (previous: 7)
    40s: 9 (previous: 9)
    50s: 10 (previous: 11)
    60s: 16 (previous: 17)
    70s: 19 (previous: 20)
    80+: 13 (previous: 14)
    age unknown: 0 (previous: 0)
  • People who died in Idaho hospitals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19: 12 (previous day: 14)
  • Staffed adult ICU beds that were still available statewide, according to Idaho Department of Health and Welfare data: 18 (previous day: 25)

Note: These numbers may differ from those reported by the state, local public health districts or individual hospitals. There are multiple reasons for this: Some agencies use different methods and data sources. Hospital census always fluctuates as patients are admitted, discharged, moved to and from the ICU, and remain hospitalized for ongoing care. And some Idaho hospitals may be behind on reporting through the federal portal from which the Sun gets its data, which can result in revisions to the previous one to three days’ totals. (The federal data use the most recent numbers reported by each hospital in the previous four-day period. The rationale is to get the numbers as close as possible to being accurate; for example, it reduces the risk of hospitalizations appearing to plummet if a large hospital misses a day of reporting.) Where the Sun shows a “previous day” count, that is the number reported the previous day, regardless of whether it was revised up or down since then.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state.